The New Year is in full swing – everyone is back at the office, children are preparing for a new school year, and with this come a few New Year’s resolutions. For some it might be to shed a few kilograms after the festive season, for others it might be to build a few muscles, get a promotion at work, or to achieve good grades at school, etc.
Whatever your resolution is – a healthy diet will help you achieve these goals. Not only will it give you enough energy and nutrients to function daily at work or school, but it will also build your immunity to keep you healthy and limit the risk of developing chronic diseases.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring, predictable, or even monotonous. Here are a few practical tips to get you on the right track this year.
You don’t have to choose between one of the many FAD diets that currently exist – rather make a few lifestyle changes that are sustainable for the whole family.
Reduce your fat intake.
Fat is twice as high in calories when compared to protein and carbohydrates. Choose low-fat or fat-free products. Limit fat when cooking – choose only one portion of fat per meal. This can be done by adding fat to only one food group – either use it when frying the meat, add it to your carbohydrates or vegetables.
Limit caloric intake through drinks.
Drinking high caloric drinks (energy- / fizzy drinks or juices) does not make you feel full. Often we combine these drinks with a main meal or still have a big meal afterwards. Choose drinks which indicate it is Low-Cal / Light / Lite / Zero / Sugar-free. Limit the intake of low calorie drinks to 1 drink (250ml or 1 can) per day. Water still remains the best alternative to fluid intake.
Limit portion sizes.
We know to limit sugar, fat and salt. What about proteins, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables? As the saying goes – “Too much of a good thing can be bad.” Make sure to have a variety of food at each meal. Try to alternate between different types of food (meat / vegetables / carbohydrates and fruit) to ensure that various nutrients are ingested daily.
Increase your activity level
Not everyone is a fan of exercise. Try to make small changes daily – anything that makes your heart beat faster is considered as exercise. Walk a bit faster when doing shopping / walking from your car or at the office, carry your shopping bags instead of using a shopping cart, take a walk with family or friends in the evening after work, join a local gym with friends and motivate each other to go at least 3 times a week. Slowly increase this amount, until you are doing moderate exercise 60 minutes most days of the week.
Choose one habit to focus on and change every week
If you use too much sugar in your food and drinks, decrease this amount with a few spoons every day until you reach your goal. If you drink large amounts of cold drinks, replace it with sugar-free drinks. If you are very sedentary – increase your activity level.
By following the above tips for a few weeks – you will already see results. You will have more energy and be more motivated at work or in school.